‘Isla Vista’ by Ryan Silva

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The hills sizzle with the sound of the sun striking the surface of solar panels. The ride to Rothko Industries takes you — in a wide sweeping curve — through the San Marcos Mountains East of Santa Barbara. A peculiar feature of the dated roadway is that it stands alone as the last highway in California that runs its course entirely above-ground. Elon Musk’s Boring Company has yet to extend his underground superhighway this far South, but it is not a question of if it will come, but when. Down the coast, San Diego stubbornly held out against the project for years, but now that their new AI-integrated City Management Protocol has determined a new tack, progress cannot, will not stop. The tunnels will come to San Marcos.

My eyes are continually adjusting to glares that I encounter in my periphery from the panels that pockmark the lunar-like terrain. Teslas never have enough tinting. It struck me that the brushfires must have had their way with the land recently. That which isn’t singed is a solar panel, which are all fireproofed. They, of course, cause most of the fires. I resign myself to the fact that I’ll need to put on sunglasses. I grope around for them — they must be tucked away somewhere on top of the sloped dashboard.

“I’m sorry I insisted we go on this route, I did not know it would hurt your eyes…” a feminine voice piped in — pensive, apologetic, from the passenger’s seat. It bled regret, an emotion too human  — all too human for my liking.

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